Publisher Trinity Mirror has confirmed it is in talks to take over local newspaper group Local World in a reported £200m deal. (Trinity Mirror headquarters pictured)
Trinity said it was in discussions over the potential acquisition of shares it did not already own in the group, which includes the Cambridge News, Nottingham Post, Hull Daily Mail and Leicester Mercury.
The deal would be one of the largest seen in the regional press.
Trinity, which owns the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror, the Daily Record and the Sunday People as well as local titles such as the Western Mail and the Liverpool Echo, confirmed talks after reports about the deal over the weekend.
Local World's major shareholders also include Daily Mail and General Trust and the Yattendon Group, controlled by the Iliffe family, whose newspaper operations became part of Local World when it was formed in 2012.
The possible takeover by Trinity has fuelled speculation about a fresh round of consolidation in the industry.
It had already announced, earlier this year, that it was weighing up a possible deal to buy assets from the owner of the Express and Star newspaper titles, Northern and Shell.
The Sunday Times reported that Trinity chief executive Simon Fox had been in on-off talks with Local World boss David Montgomery since the spring, while holding simultaneous discussions with Express Newspapers boss Richard Desmond over his national titles.
A spokesman for Trinity Mirror declined to comment on the details in The Sunday Times report.
A Trinity Mirror statement this morning said: "The Board of Trinity Mirror plc notes the recent media speculation and confirms that it is in discussions with Local World Holdings Limited for the potential acquisition of the shares not already owned by Trinity Mirror plc. There is no certainty that any agreement will be reached.
"A further announcement will be made if and when appropriate."
Trinity Mirror currently owns a 19.98 per cent share in Local World, meaning it earned £8.7m of the publisher's £43.6m profit before tax in 2014.